PHILADELPHIA, February 1, 2013 — In the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVII, football fans are presented with countless ways for enjoying the Super Bowl and predicting its winner.
Offense. Defense. Running games. Passing games. Budding quarterbacks. Veteran kicker. Rookie kicker. Head coach brothers. A Ray Lewis coronation. Cities by the San Francisco and Chesapeake Bays. Commercials. Half-time entertainment. West Coast. East Coast. Xs and Os.
Presented here for your enjoyment, not to mention your Vegas bet, is yet another way to look at the final two teams in the 2012-13 NFL season: through our taste for great beer.
It would be prudent, though, to begin with some cold, hard facts as background.
The Super Bowl History
The Pittsburgh Steelers have both appeared the most and won the most Super Bowls in the forty-six that have been played; they have a record of 6-2. The Cowboys have also played in eight Super Bowls with a record of 5-3.
Not far behind, though is one this year’s contenders: the San Francisco 49ers at 5-0. The Baltimore Ravens are 1-0. One team, needless to say, will experience its first Super Bowl loss ever.
San Francisco has “The Catch”, Joe Montana, Dwight Clark, Bill Walsh, and Steve Young. They also are responsible for introducing Terrell Owens to the league and continue to play (until 2014) in a aging stadium at Candlestick. The 49ers last title was at Super Bowl 29 in 1995 when they defeated the Chargers. The team’s lifetime winning percentage is 54.6% and postseason winning percentage is 60.4%.
The Ravens have a bit of unfortunate history in football-rich Baltimore. But, they also have a Super Bowl win under their belt, in 2001 against the Giants, and have annually boasted a rock-solid defense led by future hall-of-famer Ray Lewis.
However, the Ravens were an first-year “expansion team” in 1996 after Baltimore had been undeservedly without a team since the Colts were uprooted and moved to Indianapolis by ownership in 1984. Once upon the late 1960s, Baltimore football was deservedly proud with the Colts’ Johnny Unitas and Ted Hendricks, appearing in the Super Bowl twice in three years. The Ravens’ lifetime winning percentage is 55.1% and postseason winning percentage is 65.0%.
Edge: coin flip goes to the Ravens
The Regular Season
The two remaining teams are almost as bi-coastal as they could be. This won’t do much to satisfy middle America and drive TV ratings in the heartland, but with the Lions at 4-12 and the Chiefs at 2-14, there was not too much hope there from early in the 2012 season.
However, as for the remaining two teams vying for the Lombardi trophy, here is how they fared in their respective 2012 regular seasons.
San Francisco 49ers: 11-4-1 in regular season; finished 3-2 in last five games; ranked first in total offense and sixth in total defense; outscored their opponents by 124 points; and went 4-0 against AFC
Baltimore Ravens: 10-6 in regular season; finished 1-4 in last five games; ranked fifth in total offense and seventh in total defense; outscored their opponents by 54 points; and went 2-2 against NFC
San Francisco had a first round bye and has since gone 2-0 (with 73 total points versus its opponents’ 55), ranking first in total offense and sixth in total defense during the postseason.
Baltimore has played three games (winning by a total 90 points to 57), ranked second in total offense and first in total defense.
Both teams returned successfully in the 2012 season to overcome being on the losing end of their respective 2011 conference championships.
Beer: The X-factor
San Francisco: It is near impossible to get out of San Francisco proper without a sufficient buzz from the great breweries and bars of this 7x7 (mile) city of just over 800,000 residents.
21st Amendment, Anchor, Almanac, Beach Chalet, Magnolia, Shmaltz, Social Kitchen & Brewery, Southern Pacific, Speakeasy, Thirsty Bear, and a handful of relatively new up-and-comers are city-based breweries. Alembic, City Beer Store, Jasper’s, La Trappe, The Jug Shop, The Monk’s Kettle, Pi Bar, Public House, Suppenküche, Toronado, and Zeitgeist barely scratch the surface of all that the city’s wonderful bars have to offer. Listing any more would just be naming names for the sake of building a bigger list.
Not to mention all that the East Bay (Barclay’s, Beer Revolution, Drake’s, Jupiter, ØL Beercafe, Pyramid, The Trappist, Triple Rock, and Trumer) and North Bay (Marin County’s Marin Brewing, Moylan’s, and Iron Springs) bring to the bar as well.
Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino can all be reached in less than two hours and gives access to some of the country’s best food and beer. And, oh sure, the wine is none too shabby around that region either.
For all of the establishments listed, the ratings social-sourced juggernaut, BeerAdvocate.com, has an average rating of 4.04 for these beer-centric places.
Baltimore: The Ravens play in a beer market sandwiched by the benchmark set by Philadelphia and the continually-improving DC beer scene. Baltimore makes the most of this opportune location to create its very own superb beer scene.
Baltimore’s brewing scene is dominated by one big guy (Heavy Seas), several smaller ones (Pratt Street Ale House and The Brewer’s Art), and a “wandering” one (Stillwater). In neighboring suburbs, Bare Bones, DuClaw, Ellicott Mills, and Red Brick Station round out many of the remaining local tap handles.
The pub scene in Baltimore is thriving as well, with recognizable names like Alewife, Mahaffey’s, Max’s, and Wharf Rat serving up decent menus of craft beer.
For all of the establishments listed here for Baltimore, BeerAdvocate.com has an average rating of 3.96 for these places.
The Super Bowl
This year the game is being held in New Orleans for the first time in eleven years and the first time since Hurricane Katrina devastated the region. That makes for a fairly neutral site, geographically speaking. The last Super Bowl to be played in New Orleans was when the Patriots beat the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Four out of the last five Super Bowl winners have come from the NFC and only four current teams have never appeared in a Super Bowl: Cleveland; Detroit; Houston; and Jacksonville. None of these would exactly land near the top of our beer lists.
The closest game ever, won by one point, was after the 1990-91 season when the Giants took home the championship after beating the Bills 20-19. On the other hand, the largest margin of victory ever was 45 points, with the 49ers winning over the Broncos 55-10 in 1989-90 season.
And, finally, the average winning margin in Super Bowls 16-30 was 20 points, Super Bowls 31-35 was 14 points, Super Bowls 36-40 was 9 points, and most recently Super Bowls 41-46 was 7 points. Sixteen games in total have been won by a touchdown or less.
The 49ers have won their five rings by an average of 20 points (the most recent in 1995) while the Ravens won their only Super Bowl by 27 points in 2001.
Edge: the NFC and its 49ers
Finally, the outcome
After all of this analysis, what conclusions can finally be drawn?
Boiling this all down to a simple answer is actually simpler than perhaps initially suspected. The wealth and history of craft beer in San Francisco and the Bay Area supports it. The craft beer analysis supports the conclusion, as does the number-crunching, and even the conventional wisdom of deductive reasoning.
All signs point to a San Francisco win over Baltimore in Super Bowl XLVII. The final score will be 26-17.
After all, it’s a matter of taste.
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